How to Apply for a Nonprofit Grant

How to Apply for a Nonprofit Grant. Many corporations and charitable foundations provide grant funding to nonprofit agencies. For most agencies, grant funding is their primary source of income. There are numerous entities, federal, state and local, that earmark dollars specifically to support social service agencies and other types of non profits. Applying for a grant can be challenging, but with adequate organization and attention to detail, it doesn't have to be. Read on to learn how to apply for a nonprofit grant.

Determine eligibility. In the United States, many corporations and charitable foundations make grants only to agencies with specific, tax-exempt designations as determined by the Internal Revenue Service. This stipulation helps to delineate agencies that adhere to legal regulations governing not for profit businesses or institutions.

Review funding guidelines. Often, entities that make charitable contributions, establish parameters that detail the types of agencies, programs or projects that they will fund. This information typically includes a range for the dollar amount of the request, deadlines by which to submit the proposal and a date by which applicants will be notified of acceptance or rejection. Paying close attention to the funding guidelines will help determine if the source is a good match for the agency seeking funding.

Outline and tailor your need. Knowing specifically what your agency needs will improve the effectiveness of what you ask for in the grant application. Find ways to link your purpose to the corporate/funding philosophy of the grantor. To accentuate how you convey your need, use similar language that they use in their company profile, funding guidelines or RFPs to describe what your agency does and what it needs.

Identify a grantor. Today, there are numerous methods available to select corporations, foundations or individuals who offer grants in support of other agencies. Libraries and the internet provide a vast cache of resources that list potential funding sources. Many grantors publish RFPs, or requests for proposals which alert potential grantees of their intent to donate funds or of their need for a specific service.

Follow instructions. Possibly the most important step and general rule in applying for a grant is to follow the instructions provided with the grant application. Don't give more than asked for, don't give less than asked for and absolutely give it in the exact format requested. Grant applications are not the place to embellish. Following directions precisely will provide all the information a potential grantor needs in order to make a decision about whether or not to fund an agency.


  • Seek funding for programming with measurable outcomes. Funders are more apt to support projects that yield tangible results that can be linked to their contribution.


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